Category: Thoughts and Musings

What We Talk About When We Talk About Craft

If you were a writer or a reader of a certain age—say, under 30, or even 40—in the early 1980s, and you were interested in short stories, Raymond Carver was a constant topic of discussion. He was the most prominent representative of a style that was also a constant topic of discussion. It was commonly called minimalism, though I always preferred the term miniaturism. “Minimalism” suggested minimalizing, whereas, at least in my interpretation, the power of the style was to reveal a new world, only in miniature. It relied on contrasts: the lean text and the rich subtext, the surface cool hiding a kind of hellfire, the emotional distance that, seemingly paradoxically, suggests a raw-to-the-marrow fear. In short (or miniature): complex effects through the fewest strokes.

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Panic at Trancisco

The best part of beginning again after so much ending again is that my own rate of revelations happen much faster. I have a map. I made it myself with Goddard experts who enthusiastically shared their compasses. I think back to my first semester and the time I spent muzzling Majesty Wells inside a bloodstained trunk while I looked for my keys. This is better. There are clean restrooms ahead and Orson is just another passenger dozing under pulsing streetlamps.

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Subtext and Text

We confronted the building and came away proud by re-learning what makes a scar and what can provide healing – adventure with a friend to defy the norm, create ritual and witness.

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Text and Subtext

“If the best of human creativity is rooted in the subconscious, and I believe it is, all art therefore shares at least a zip code with dreams — if not an actual street address. And I believe that subtext exists as a challenge to interpret and understand in a way that goes far beneath the surface – not unlike the idealized dream dictionary of my childhood.”

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Craftsman Tools, Auschwitz, Siddhartha

I love this word, woke. Technically, I guess you could say it’s a verb in the past tense, as in “I woke up and saw the light,” but recently it’s been used as an adjective to inform the present, as in “I am woke to the reasons my people came to this country and I am not proud of it anymore!” But when I think about craft, and what it means to me, which is pretty much everything—it’s a doctrine and a commitment, it’s a mantra and a fail-safe, it’s better than a cocktail or a joint or a church service—I must start with this old word newly used, this word “woke.” Because most of all, I think that craft is about being awake.

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17apr5:30 pm7:00 pmGoddard MFA Zoom April Information MeetingMeet Goddard College MFA in Creating Writing's program director Elena Georgiou, and learn how our low-residency MFA program can help you develop your voice as a writer in the world.


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